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Basking shark found dead on Deal Beach by angler Paul Shadbolt

By Sam Lennon

Despite the huge, gaping mouth, this was thankfully no maneater.

This was a 7 to 8ft basking shark, found washed up on a beach this morning.

This type eats plankton, not people, hence is full mouth for swallowing but small teeth.

The gaping mouth of the shark.Picture: Paul Shadbolt
The gaping mouth of the shark.Picture: Paul Shadbolt

A sea angler came across the dead animal on Deal Beach.

Paul Shadbolt, who has been fishing for 20 years, added: "I think it may have died from malnourishment because basking sharks are not as thin as that.

"Plankton is usually found in warm, clear water, and right now the sea around here is neither. So I think it didn't have enough and gave up the ghost.

"I was quite shocked when I first saw this. It was a very sad sight."

The animal was thought to have recently died. Picture: Paul Shadbolt.
The animal was thought to have recently died. Picture: Paul Shadbolt.

Mr Shadbolt, of Foster Way, Deal, found the animal while he was out beach cleaning about 700 metres north of the pier at 10.30am today.

He reported it to the RSPCA.

He said: "I think it died very recently, the body was still fresh and also soft and pliable.

"I think it most likely passed away on the beach.

"The body was intact, there were no bite marks.

"There was a clear flesh wound on a fin, which is from probably when it rolled on the shingle."

The dead creature at Deal Beach. Picture: Paul Shadbolt
The dead creature at Deal Beach. Picture: Paul Shadbolt
The body at Deal Beach. Picture: Paul Shadbolt
The body at Deal Beach. Picture: Paul Shadbolt

Mr Shadbolt added: "Looking at the size of the tail I first thought it was probably part of the whale family.

"But it didn't have the face of something like a porpoise.

"Its huge mouth and small teeth made me sure it was a basking shark."

A spokesman for Dover District Council said: "We are aware of this incident and are looking into disposal arrangements."

The shark looked too thin, Mr Shadbolt said. Picture: Paul Shadbolt
The shark looked too thin, Mr Shadbolt said. Picture: Paul Shadbolt

An RSPCA spokesman said: "This must have been upsetting for the person who found this dead animal.

"If you see a distressed or injured creature, which is stranded on the coastline please contact the RSPCA or British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

"If sadly the animal is already dead then please contact the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme which investigates dead strandings of whales, dolphins, porpoise, marine turtles and basking sharks across the UK coastline.

"We would also advise anyone who has found a dead animal of this nature not to touch the body for health and safety reasons."

The RSPCA can be contacted on 0300 1234 999 and the BDMLR on 01825 765546.

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